Privately owned elementary schools are at risk!
Suborna Rahman Sony: Elementary education in Bangladesh is significantly framed in private educational institutions. The majority of our primary schools are devoid of government facilities compare to only 38,033 government schools. Usually, private schools are entirely run by the tuition fees of their students. However, everything was going on smoothly until the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic entered the scene. A number of the non-govt. primary educational institutions have already been shut down and an alarming number of the figure are at risk under the three major traumatic issues.
Around 95% of the private schools commenced distance learning back in April 2020 and they have been trying their level best to conduct online teaching while maintaining the standard. Despite the educators’ heart and soul efforts, most of the parents do not seem to be happy. As a result, an increasing number of guardians have stopped paying tuition fees for their children. And unfortunately, the proportion is climbing up day by day. Consequently, teachers are being paid less, half or not at all at some institutions! Most of these schools do not have their own campuses and they run their works in rental buildings. Hence, the authorities are failing to pay in rent and everything is in a dreadful condition at present.
Distance learning is solely dependent on electronic devices, for example, smartphones and computers. All electronic goods set to get expensive amid short supplies since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world. Supply is still tight and shortages of some parts are likely because the global economy is restarting. As the global business is tremendously affected by the horrible pandemic, vendors are supplied with a smaller number of products than their demands. The outbreak of the coronavirus has especially increased smartphone prices due to a disruption in the supply chain and many people are still unable to get one for their children’s educational purpose. About 10% of the parents are estimated to have smartphones, but not all of them have access to a WiFi connection. It takes a lot of money to buy mobile internet data to attend four classes a day – each spanning around 25/30 minutes.
It has been around one and a half years since our young learners are away from their schools which are considered as their second homes. Being an overpopulated developing country, the majority of our children are devoid of mental and physical recreation and most of our educational institutions have been meeting up the needs of both recreations along with compulsory education. A multitude of extra-curricular activities keeps our pupils alive both physically and mentally all year round. But online classes can only meet up the minimum requirements of regular education and nothing extra can be added to this virtual continuation. As a consequence, our young learners are being ill both mentally and physically.
A nationwide lockdown has been prolonged till 16 June. Young learners have been apprehending a new normal as the vaccination process is going in full swing. Though the second shot of vaccine has been initiated, schools are still closed. Children are tremendously eager to back to their schools. A dream to be in the classroom is floating in the eyes of every young learner. Will the non-govt. school teachers be able to bring their students back to their classrooms?
The writer is a senior English teacher at Child Heaven School in Uttara.